SCOTUS Upholds Indiana Fetal Remains Law, Denies Cert on Discriminatory Abortion Ban

May 28, 2019
CONTACT: Katey Price
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SBA List & CLI both Submitted Briefs Urging the Court to Uphold Indiana’s Pro-Life Policies

Washington, D.C.  – Today the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling and upheld an Indiana law, signed by then-Governor Mike Pence, requiring the humane and dignified disposition of human fetal remains. In the same opinion, without expressing any opinion for or against the law, the Court also denied review of Indiana’s prenatal nondiscrimination law, also signed by Pence, protecting unborn children from eugenic and other discriminatory abortions, such as those carried out on the grounds of race, sex, or conditions like Down syndrome. The 7th Circuit Court decision striking down the discrimination abortion ban therefore stands. The case is Commissioner of Indiana Department of Health v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. The national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) and its research arm, the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), released the following statement in response:

“First, we thank the Court for affirming today that nothing in the Constitution or precedents of the Court prohibits states from requiring that the remains of human children be treated better than medical waste. This is a straightforward issue of whether states may regulate the proper and dignified disposal of human remains.

“Secondly, while we are disappointed that the Court failed to take up Indiana’s ban on the eugenic practice of discrimination abortion, we acknowledge as Justice Thomas has that the court ‘cannot avoid’ these issues forever. As Justice Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion, ‘Enshrining a constitutional right to an abortion based solely on the race, sex, or disability of an unborn child, as Planned Parenthood advocates, would constitutionalize the views of the 20th-century eugenics movement.’

“So long as the Supreme Court forces a policy of unfettered elective abortion on the entire country, it ought to at least allow for states to protect babies from unjust discrimination. While expressing our disappointment, we also recognize that the Court could have but did not affirm the ruling below striking down the law under the Court’s 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. Whether the Constitution allows states to protect unborn children from the eugenic practice of discrimination abortion is, as Justice Thomas writes, an ‘issue of first impression’ and, in the light of the Court’s denial of review today, ‘remains an open question.’

“Finally, both of these laws that came before the Court were signed into law by then-Governor Mike Pence. He has long been a trailblazer for the pro-life movement and we are so grateful for his unwavering pro-life leadership as our Vice President.”

In a previously submitted amicus curiae brief to the Court, SBA List argued that the viability rule established by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey is arbitrary and does not preclude a state government’s exercise of its interest in prohibiting discrimination against individuals, including those with Down syndrome, and that the Court can uphold prenatal antidiscrimination laws without violating its precedents. The brief also notes, “Research has shown that individuals with Down syndrome are among the happiest people in the world and bring tremendous joy to their families. In some Western nations, however, children diagnosed with Down syndrome are on the verge of being eliminated from society through selective abortion.”

Charlotte Lozier Institute and Americans United for Life (AUL) also submitted an amicus curiae brief asking the Court to rule on the constitutionality of Indiana’s on the disposal of human fetal remains. The brief argued that the law “rationally addresses the health, safety, and moral concerns over how to properly dispose of human fetal remains by medical practitioners—regardless of whether the death is a result of a miscarriage or an abortion.”

SBA List is a network of more than 700,000 pro-life Americans nationwide, dedicated to ending abortion by electing national leaders and advocating for laws that save lives, with a special calling to promote pro-life women leaders.

Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony List. CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world. The Institute is named for a feminist physician known for her commitment to the sanctity of human life and equal career and educational opportunities for women. 


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